Congressman Tony Cárdenas introduces the End Debtor’s Prison for Kids Act

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Today, I am introducing the Ending Debtor’s Prison for Kids Act. We need to eliminate the cruel practice of collecting fines and fees that keep children in jail and American families in debt.

Right now, across this country, young people are being held in detention centers not for crimes they committed at home or in school, but because they can’t afford the legal fees of our justice system.

Today, in America, 12-year-old children are in jail for being poor.

Court expenses, treatment fees, the cost of probation — In some places in America parents are even required to pay the government child support while their children are detained.

And if a young person’s working poor parents can’t keep up with the legal charges, their child stays in jail.

So the burden falls on the children — who belong in school, not in prison. We are creating a vicious cycle that fails not only these young people but the entire community as well.

These American children need champions. Today, during Second Chance Month, I will begin my fight to end this cruel practice and make certain all children have a second chance at a better life.

I call on my colleagues in both parties to join me.

Top photo is a YouTube screenshot of Rep. Cárdenas